Narrowed and Broadened Concepts: A Contribution to Current Issues and Future Directions

Ad hoc concept construction broadening conceptual modulation lexical adjustment lexical pragmatics narrowing


January 16, 2023


As standardly conceived in truth-conditional pragmatic theory, particularly from a relevance-theoretic perspective, lexical adjustment can be effected by a pragmatic process of ad hoc concept construction. Studies of ad hoc concept construction fall into two types: early (or traditional) and current (or later) studies. According to the early studies, ad hoc concept construction is claimed to be accommodated univocally. While this is so, it is, in fact, viewed as falling into two varieties: narrowing and broadening. On the other hand, although current studies developed out of a concern with certain issues connected to the traditional conception of ad hoc concept construction, they seem to retain these two varieties. The current paper takes issue with the two-directional approach to ad hoc concept construction. It is argued that the specific approach is based on a line of argument detracting from descriptive rigor and parsimony. It is also argued that it has unfavorable implications for theoretical assumptions that are well-established in pragmatic theory. In this light, it is proposed that the dual view of narrowing/broadening needs to be dispensed with, along with the labels sustaining it, in the interest of a genuinely coherent view. Ultimately, the discussion offered in the present paper is intended as a potential contribution to the currently developing or later approach to ad hoc concept construction.